Slow down and get it right

County responsible for speeding ticket flap, and county should fix it

Something about the local solicitor’s comments on the River Watch Parkway speeding ticket debacle didn’t sit well with us. But we weren’t sure what it was.

Then our readers figured it out for us.

Online commenters below The Augusta Chronicle’s story June 28 noted the incongruity of the situation: Richmond County officials wrongly ticketed speeders along a stretch of River Walk for several months – and now they expect the motorists to be responsible for fixing the situation.

Really? It’s the government’s fault – the temporary speed limit reduction was in error and arguably illegal – but it’s the public’s obligation to come forward to get the tickets dismissed?

The sheriff’s office had the wherewithal to camp out for days-on-end on River Watch to catch commuters in what, in retrospect, was essentially an illegal speed trap – but they can’t track down the errant citations? It’s the recipients’ responsibility?

We appreciate Richmond County State Court Solicitor Kellie McIntyre’s assertion that those tickets “that were issued because of the error will be dismissed.” But The Chronicle story goes on to say that, “She said it would be very difficult for her staff to identify every ticket that was issued under the erroneous speed limit, so it will be up to individual drivers to bring the matter to the attention of the court.”

We understand the courts are swamped. An often combative culture with loads of blameless individuals makes certain of it.

But let’s have some basic accountability here. The tickets were issued in error. And while the blame is being passed around – the county says a private contractor working on the nearby Augusta Canal towpath inadvertently overstepped its authority to reduce the speed limit – frankly, the driving public doesn’t care who’s at fault. The county is responsible. The county should fix it.

We heartily agree with “Riverman” and our other online commenters who made that point under the story June 28.

“Seems the sheriff’s department could help out identifying the tickets issued,” writes a commenter named “Point to Ponder.” “They wrote them. They must have a system in place that keeps tabs of tickets from each shift and precinct?

“Each deputy can go into their ticket book and identify those issued on Riverwatch. Surely there is someone bright enough in the Solicitor’s office to get the job done with the sheriff’s help. This is a government/bureaucratic problem which they caused. They need to fix it for all those issued tickets and not put it on (motorists’) backs to come forward. ... What if they don’t live here...?

“The pressure is on our elected officials to get it right.”

We listened to those readers, and we think the county should too.

It boggles the mind to think that nobody at the county – not the deputies, not the department, not the court – can track down the tickets issued in error. Surely there are records to be culled. One could start with the deputies’ own books. They’re schooled in maintaining evidence.

It may be just a matter of
caring enough.

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